PDP’s draft federal Constitution submitted; is EO on Consultative Committee scrapped?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 October) —  Is Executive Order No. 10 on the creation of a 25-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) that would study the 1987 Constitution and recommend amendments to Congress considered scrapped given that the President’s political party, Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan  (PDP-Laban) has submitted its draft federal Constitution to the PDP-dominated Congress?

“Whether to pursue and implement the EO is for the executive to decide. The party has no role in that,” was Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III reply to MindaNews’ query Sunday afternoon.

President Rodrigo Duterte is concurrent PDP Chair, Pimentel is concurrent party President while House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. is concurrent party Secretary-General.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa on July 24, 2017. Behind him are Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Sepaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr., Simeon Celi Jr./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Asked the same question, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the ConCom “will proceed with its mandate. It may use the PDP draft as a possible reference, if not an input, particularly with respect to the articles pertaining to the form of government.”

MindaNews asked when the names of the 25 ConCom members will be announced given that it’s almost 10 months since the EO’s signing. Abella replied, “no info so far.”

Duterte signed EO 10 on December 7, 2016,  creating a Consultative Committee composed of not more than 25 members, to “study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, including but not limited to, the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies.”

According to the EO, the ConCom shall, “as far as practicable, represent the different sectors of the country” and must be a natural-born citizen and a resident of the Philippines, at least 25 years old, a qualified voter, and of recognized probity, independence, nationalism, patriotism and expertise on field.”

The Executive Secretary or his designated representative “shall act as an observer during the deliberations of the Committee.”

The ConCom, according to EO 10, “shall endeavor to complete its work on or before the lapse of six months from the date it is convened.”

The draft Federal Constitution submitted by the PDP to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments was prepared by a 15-member study group of the PDP Federalism Institute led by Executive Director Jonathan Malaya.

The proposed Constitution provides for a shift to a federal form of government that will have a President and Prime Minister, may or may not have a Vice President, a Senate elected by regions and a national assembly comprising the congressional districts but whose number of representatives will be increased from 250 to 400 to allow for proportional representation. The party-list system will be abolished.

“Best of minds”

On April 10, at the press conference before departing for his three-country state visits in the Middle East trip, MindaNews asked the President when he would name the members to the ConCom. By then, the EO was already four months old.

He said he would name the 25 members after the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law is submitted and there is substantial progress in the peace process with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

I will not name them until I get the hard copy of the agreements between the…,” Duterte said without finishing his sentence. “Lahat (All),”  the President said.

The BBL was submitted to the President on July 17 and was forwarded to Congress in mid-August and last week was finally filed in the House of Representatives as House Bill 6475. The peace negotiations with the NDF has been suspended since April.

In a press conference in Malacanang with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. on March 13, Duterte said “I am just waiting for the Bangsamoro draft” when asked for an update on the ConCom.

He said he has to call “for the best of minds” to be in the ConCom.

“Remember, the persons (who) will be selected here to form the (ConCom) ‘yun lang pinaka-bright…. with integrity and all,” he said, adding he was open to suggestions on who should be named.

Asked if he will also wait for substantial progress in the GRP-NDF peace process, particularly on the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR), Duterte replied “yes.”

“I have to look at the composition. You know the nuances, the bigotry, the penchant to  … So I have to select the men who will craft the Constitution vis-à-vis with the crowd here,” Duterte added.

He said the aspirations of the communists are “really the same aspiration of all Filipinos, halos pareho” (almost the same)” and that they can recommend names for the ConCom. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)